Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Little Safari

Yes, we went on a Safari, an Eagle Safari! 
Note: All photos are by Ray.
Smith's Island area near Lock and Dam
Ray loves shooting eagles with a camera so we went to find some. There are a few near Dubuque, Iowa, but it is hard to get very close to them. On Saturday, Ray and a friend were near Prairie du Chein, Wisconsin, and saw quite a few eagles but he really wanted to see more.

On Monday we headed to the Quad Cities (Bentendorf and Davenport, Iowa and Moline and Rock Island, Illinois). Our little overnight safari became an adventure. We arrived at our airbnb rental which was nothing special and found a few little problems such as no toilet paper! 

As we unpacked the car, we realized that we forgot one overnight bag – interesting, since we only had 2 small overnight bags! We had all of the camera equipment, the cooler, and my knitting – the important things! We had forgotten our computers, all charging cables including the ones for our phones, my curling iron, and a few other items. So this would be unplugged time. We each had a change of clothes, deodorant, and toothbrushes – pretty basic – but sufficient!

After a quick visit to a Visitor Center, we headed for the Rock Island Arsenal, a place we've never been. This is an active US Army facility so we had to go through a criminal background check with the FBI's National Crime Information Center. We passed! The reason for our visit was photography; we were told we could only take pictures towards the water with our backs to the Arsenal or the police would pick us up. It was late afternoon and not many people were around as we were near the dam taking photos. A police car went by us a few times and then parked a short distance away. We were VERY CAREFUL to keep our backs to the Arsenal! 
Sunset Park

Next we headed to Sunset Park in Rock Island. As one man described it, there were walls of eagles! The trees were full and the birds were flying and fishing. The gulls and the ducks were busy too. It was fun to watch and Ray loved getting photos.
Sunset Park

Tuesday morning found us back at Sunset Park. The soft light was perfect for pictures. As we traveled north, we stopped at Smith's Island. It was a short, refreshing very chilly wind hike out to the spot where the eagles were. We could see them but couldn't get very close. 
Sunset Park

Ray found this squirrel eating a fish!

Smith's Island

Both Monday and Tuesday were gorgeous, sunny days. We had a great time and I got to spend Valentine's Day with my Valentine even though I didn't get a morning shower, my hair wasn't curled, I didn't have makeup, . . . 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

R/W/B Lasagna, Boy Squares, and a Hockey Hat finished

Note: Once again blogger seems to be adjusting the size of my type and not allowing me to change it - I'm not spending an hour reading the html code. Sorry that this might be hard to read.

Two more donation quilts are finished. This Red White Blue Lasagna quilt is 57" by 60".  

I quilted it in straight lines using a walking foot.  The batting is Dream Cotton and I used Aurifill thread.


There are a few colorful pieces on the back.


When I put this on the couch in the family room, I decided I could use a red quilt in there! The couch which is under the quilt, is a reddish brown.

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The next finish is Boy Squares. All of the print blocks deal with things that most boys like. This quilt is 51" by 54" and has Dream Cotton batting. Again, I used Aurifil thread to piece and quilt. 

There's fishing lures, totem poles, horses, Spiderman, baseballs, tools,

Batman (the blue), jelly beans, moose and bear, and a few more totem poles and Spiderman.


There are a variety of reds but each diagonal stripe is the same fabric.

I used a walking foot and quilted this with a wavy line in a crosshatch pattern. The old cars on the back came from a friend's stash which she gifted me a while back. I thought the piece fit well on this quilt.

Maybe you can see the quilting here.

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I also finished this hat for one of our grandsons. He wanted a hat that said 'hockey' and had a pompon. 

I modified the Manning Park Hat pattern that I recently used for hats for both Ray and me. The inside of the brim is red instead of white - I thought that might be wise since he is a boy!

I hope it fits and that he likes it. Here is the back.


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Hooray!!! I have reached the goal I set for myself with my clean-out-this-stash project. Every quilt top that is finished is pinned. There are two quilts in the pile to have the binding hand stitched and there are six quilts in the pile to be quilted; one of them is not from the project. I know over the next months, all of these quilts will be finished and ready to donate before the end of the year. I began quilting one of the quilts today and will be taking my time. I think it's time to start thinking about what I get to make next!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Circus Quilt is done!

Another quilt from my clean-out-this-stash project is finish - the Circus Quilt. When I found the yellow print in my stash, it was already cut into these pieces. I wasn't sure what to do and finally came up with this.

I pieced and quilted this donation quilt with Aurifil thread and used Dream Cotton batting. The binding is left over pieces in green, blue and red. The quilt is 42" by 52" and I quilted it using my wave ruler. 

Can you see the wavy lines?

I think you can see the waves better on the back.

I have had some interesting twists with my clean-out-this-stash project. Yesterday I began to pin a quilt and I realized that I did not do the sashing and corner stones on one side and one end! So I began searching and think I have found enough fabric to finish. 

Earlier today, while I was pinning a quilt, I was not at all happy with the piecing. It finally occurred to me that maybe some of the pieces/blocks I picked up and sewed together weren't extras but rejects. Yup, some of the measurements were off. So I finished pinning and then I cut the whole thing up into practice sandwiches!

I'm wondering if both of these problems happened because I'm anxious to be done with this project.  In any event, the project is progressing; I think I can see the finish line! 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Baby Elephants and a small Duffel Bag

Most fabrics in this Baby Elephants quilt are leftovers from burp cloths and swaddle blankets that I made for our youngest grandson 3 years ago. The front is cotton flannel while the back is 100% cotton.


Of course, I used Aurifil thread for the piecing and quilting and Dream Cotton batting.

I used my circle templates with my ruler foot to quilt this. There is a little design around the inside squares - next time I think I will try a curve that makes more of a circle around the square. 

I just used circles to fill in the rest. 

I found that it is much easier, for me, to use the inside of the circle template rather than the outside. This is the largest circle template I have and as you can see, there is no outside choice. This was pretty easy to use. There is an opening in all of my closed templates and I have a piece to tape in when using the template - thus the blue painter's tape.

I tried using the outside of this template but found the inside is definitely the way to go.

This is a donation quilt and one more from my clean-out-this-stash project. Last week I made backs and cut batting for the entire pile that needs to be quilted. 

I took a little time away from my project last week to make a bag for our youngest grandson. He needed a bag for some blocks. His mom suggested a duffel type bag. 

I quilted the fabric before sewing any seams. The strapping is already on the other side (outside) of this piece you can see the stitching but maybe you can see some of the quilting. I did some large scale square stippling. I've always had trouble free motion quilting right angles. Well, it's not a problem anymore with the quilting rulers!

Here is the bag opened. 

I gave him the bag last night and I got a text today with a picture of a happy little boy who had filled his new bag with blocks.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ray's new hat

Ray's hat is finished. This is the same pattern I used for my hat, The Manning Park Hat Pattern. For Ray's hat, I used 3 colors and manipulated the pattern a bit to accommodate 3 instead of 2 colors. I did not do the picot edge but I did use the same kind of yarn - Rauma Mitu. 

This is the first pom-pon that I have made in MANY years! My new pom-pon maker arrived in the mail just a few hours before I tried it.
My friend Nancy made the pom-pon for my hat. My only advice - read the instructions or at least look at the pictures! What you see in the photo is my third try - the first one AFTER reading the instructions. The first two times I had the maker put together backwards.

It's snowing and supposed to get colder. We might get a chance to wear our new hats soon!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

What is a ruler foot?

What is a ruler foot? I have been asked that question so let me attempt to explain.

On a sewing machine, a foot is always used to hold down the fabric while it is stitched. 

This is my go-to foot to use on my machine. It fastens onto the machine and the needle goes up and down in that opening.


There are feed dogs under the foot that pull the fabric through the machine while it is stitching.

When a person does free-motion quilting, the feed dogs are lowered because the person guiding the fabric doesn't want to fight with the feed dogs feeding front to back. Fabric can be moved in any direction when free-motion quilting. So the feed dogs are lowered and a free-motion quilting foot is used. Here is the foot I use.

The foot is open so I can see the needle easily. This foot bounces on the fabric so it does not continually hold the fabric like a traditional foot. This bouncing allows me to move the fabric as I am stitching.

A ruler foot is another free-motion quilting foot. It acts like a regular free-motion foot but the bottom is taller. The foot still bounces on the fabric but it is tall/thick enough that it will not inadvertently bounce onto the ruler and shatter a needle.

In the following picture, the regular free-motion foot is on the left and the ruler foot is on the right.

The free-motion quilting rulers are thick usually about 1/4". That makes it harder to accidentally move them under the needle or have the foot accidentally bounce onto the ruler.

Why use free-motion rulers? I can stitch straight lines easier as well as circles and other shapes. My shapes are more uniform. 

I love free-motion quilting and the ruler foot and rulers are just another tool for me to use.

Hope that helps!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Turtle Quilt is finished.

I decided the green Irish chain, which I made on a retreatneeded something. I added some turtles and then some borders. The binding also reflects the  great colors of the turtles.

I used my new rulers to quilt this quilt. The turtles have diamonds around them.

The 9-patch blocks have squares - I don't think you can see the inner one; it's in the ditch around the center green square.

This quilt has been laundered and you can see the crinkliness from the Dream Cotton batting. Did you know that crinkliness is a word?

I used Aurifil thread for the piecing and the quilting. Oh, can you see the turtle tracks around the green border? I like my wavy line ruler.

Did you notice the binding above? It goes quite well with the back. I love color especially in children's quilts. I hope some child will fall in love with this donation quilt.

The Turtle Quilt is 55" by 55" and another quilt from my clean-out-this-stash project.

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Update on my clean-out-this-stash project:

The pile of quilt tops is getting smaller - yay!

Parts of two quilts are rolled on boards ready to be pinned.

There are a couple of pinned quilts that need to be quilted.

I am currently quilting one quilt using my wavy line ruler.

There are a couple of quilts that need the binding hand sewn.

I'm beginning to feel like this project really is manageable! 

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